The overwhelming joy of graduation day

The overwhelming joy of graduation day

Each morning and each night I look at my journalism degree from Temple University, I remember the challenges I overcame to get it, including the fear of never receiving it at all. The overwhelming euphoria I felt when it finally arrived in the mail is something I still carry to this day. It can never really be replicated or taken away. In the beginning, I never saw myself attending college. I never saw it as the important factor it would become in my life. I grew up in and still live in North Philadelphia. A college graduate is something not often seen coming from a low income household or an impoverished neighborhood. I remember walking through my neighborhood on graduation day, a cool spring day, twiddling my fingers as my gown blew in the breeze. This would actually be my second degree. The first came from the Community College of Philadelphia just a few years prior. Though I was older, and some things...
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Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Kevin Wilkins remembers the summer day long ago when he stared down a member of The Valley, a notorious gang that inhabited the streets of North Philadelphia in the '60s and '70s. He was around 16 at the time. The gang tested him and his peers from his North Philly neighborhood by beating them. It was a way to see if they were truly tough enough for the life ahead. Wilkins remembered his beating not being too bad. With shadows of his previous life written into his body -- a tattoo of a panther on his right arm, a lion on his left -- the former gang member does not wish to reveal his true name. I first met Wilkins a few years ago at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, an extension of the nonprofit Project HOME. Wilkins was a frequent visitor, stopping by to collect fliers about upcoming programs. North Philadelphia, where Wilkins and I both live, has gone through...
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Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Visiting a barber shop or a hair salon may seem like a luxury, but an artist who visits shelters for homeless Americans sees it as a matter of identity. "Hair care is kind of seen as a non-essential need for people that are homeless," says Jody Wood, creator of mobile hair salon Beauty in Transition. "It's an extra maybe even some people think is superfluous, but I'm interested in trying to resist in this process of losing one's identity." To some degree, we all struggle to find and keep our identity. But imagine the devastation of losing it slowly over time, separated from the people around you, labeled as "the homeless," ignored throughout the streets of Philadelphia by passers-by. A traveling salon catering to homeless clients may seem unorthodox, but a simple hairstyle can help an invisible person feel visible. I never thought about it that way until I spoke to Wood about her project. Perhaps it is because I am accustomed to...
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Homeless, not hopeless: A View From the Free Library

Homeless, not hopeless: A View From the Free Library

I have never experienced the plight of homelessness, but I've seen many people throughout the streets of downtown Philadelphia who have. For the last six years, I have worked as a barista part time at the Philadelphia Free Library. I get homeless customers as well as the regular patrons of the library. Sometimes they arrive just to rest; sometimes they remain in the library all day. Nowhere else to go, I always assume. Many can be seen daily playing with electronics or eating potato chips and sandwiches from the carts outside. There are times when these unfortunate individuals will reach into their pockets and pull out a few crumpled dollars to purchase a cup of coffee from me. Sometimes I wonder what they must go through every day, what their interaction with people who deem them invisible must be. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons License "Everyone has the right right" Click here to read the rest of the story. Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a North Philadelphia journalists and...
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Temple Grads Share The Fruits of Their Business With Philly Kids

Temple Grads Share The Fruits of Their Business With Philly Kids

I never imagined that I could have so much in common with a pineapple or banana before sitting down with twins Rachel and Sarah Stanton, business partners and recent graduates of Temple University. Sitting in the Fox School of Business, Sarah Stanton laid out a few of their brightly colored shirts in front of me, each one corresponding to a fruit and a personality type, which they sell through their business, Fruitstrology. With talkative grape, independent pineapple, active orange, charismatic peach, easygoing banana, ambitious coconut, smart apple, and funny pear available already, the pair are planning more options for the near future. The sisters started the business in 2013 as students, with the premise that, for each shirt sold, they would donate a piece of fruit to a child in Philadelphia. They got the idea when they saw children in north Philadelphia walking to school with potato chips and sodas in hand. They had been working with a group called Net Impact, which...
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Lady Hoofers creates space to support female dancers, choreographers in Philly

Lady Hoofers creates space to support female dancers, choreographers in Philly

The closest that I ever came to becoming a professional tap dancers was watching television in the late 1990s. On the “The Jamie Foxx Show” or “Saturday Night Live,” I would occasionally catch a dancer performing something fantastic. I was captivated by their fluid movement, as if their art were just second nature to them. I never pursued dancing myself. I have no rhythm. But I still love to watch others dance. When I first found out about an all-female tap dancing ensemble in Philadelphia accidentally on Facebook, naturally I was intrigued. They are called the Lady Hoofers, and I had to find out what was behind that name. Like anything else in life pursuing, tap takes a lot of time and energy to get it right. I could hear just how determines the Hoofers are to perfect their craft when I visited them one chilly Sunday evening at the Institute of Dance Artistry in Plymouth Meeting. Click here to read the rest of the...
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